Students need to get MMR jab following mumps outbreaks in third level colleges - HPSC


The Health Protection Surveillance Centre today (Tuesday) warned students to make sure they have had two doses of the MMR vaccine following at least seven mumps outbreaks in third level colleges this year.

Mumps has been on the increase since the beginning of 2008, and students under 25, particularly new students, who haven't been vaccinated or who haven't had mumps need to talk to their GP or student health service about getting protected, says HPSC specialist in public health medicine, Dr Suzanne Cotter.

"153 mumps cases - mostly in the 15-24 age group - were reported to HPSC in the first 16 weeks of 2008, four of which were admitted to hospital. This follows 150 cases in 2007, well down on 1079 in 2005 which came after a nationwide outbreak that year. It appears that most of these cases caught mumps in third level colleges or secondary schools.

"MMR protects against measles, mumps and rubella and two doses are needed to protect against infection. Anyone who is not sure about their vaccination status needs to get another dose to be on the safe side. The vaccine is free, although an administration fee may apply for non medical card holders.

"Mumps is a contagious acute viral illness that causes fever, headache and painful swollen glands. Complications are usually mild but it can cause meningitis, deafness, and inflammation of the testicles, ovaries or pancreas. Students need to be aware that the best way to avoid it is to get vaccinated," added Dr Cotter.